It’s 15 years since Vishal Bhardwaj started composing music for films — and, boy, has he come a long way. Compared to his seven titles as director, he has scored for 34 films — something even some established composers have failed to notch up in this while.
Vishal slipped into the nation’s musical directory with ‘Chappa chappa charkha chale’ in Gulzar’s Maachis. Then came ‘Goli maar’ in Satya a couple of years later. But for me, the revelation that Vishal was probably not interested only in delivering market-sure tunes came in 2000, with Dil pe mat le yaar.
Sanjeev Abhyankar’s song in Hamsadhwani, ‘Lai jaa re badra’, which came at the very end of the film, is possibly the best use of the raag in Hindi films. (A far more imaginative adaptation than, say, Manna and Lata’s ‘Jaa tose nahin boloon kanhaiya’ from Parivar.) ‘Lai jaa’ and Hariharan’s ‘Swagatam’ in Dil pe made me want to listen to everything by Vishal that came my way.
There were a few hits in the following years as Vishal donned the director’s floppy hat, too.
He registered 8 on the Richter scale again in 2006, with Omkara. The Kaminey score as a whole seemed to me closer to 3.
While last year’s Ishqiya again struck 8.
‘Darling’, the opener in his latest direction-production-composition 7 Khoon Maaf is declared on the jacket to be based on “Russian folk song ‘Kalinka’ composed by Ivan Larionov (1860)”. It’s a rare and welcome admission.
If a hospital head nurse could be deemed worthy of a Grammy, it’s Usha Uthup, the principal voice rolling out ‘Darrrling’. She too has come a long way since ‘Married a female wrestler’, the medley in 1972’s Bombay to Goa. But she remains as flirtatious.
‘Bekaraan’, a slow, sparsely-adorned love ballad, unfortunately evokes Taare Zameen Par’s ‘Maa’ song for me. It’s a rare one sung by Vishal himself and his voice comes across as one of an earnest-yet-laid-back lover’s.
In ‘O Mama’, lyricist Gulzar has fun talking about a “meaow-si ladki”. As ever, KK hits the rock registers right up where you would expect him to.
Master Saleem, too, goes up near the stratosphere in ‘Awaara’. His kitchen department, full of gypsy-esque instruments and clapping, works despite Niladri Kumar’s misleading sitar.
Suresh Wadkar’s voice — rather, his nose — can be heard after long in the lullaby-ish ‘Tere liye’. Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s Mohan Veena segues in with the other guitars.
The heavy rock guitar is back in ‘Dil dil hai’. But Suraj Jagan’s shouting detracts from Gulzar’s impish lyrics. Rekha Bhardwaj’s hymnal ‘Yeshu’ changes pitch in a rather difficult manner. The strings, we are told, have been bowed by the Suresh Lalwani-led Bombay Film Orchestra.
‘Doosra darling’, neither a remix nor a reprisal of the opener, begins with the rambunctious stomp of the original. But then it slips into a lovely slow interlude by Rekha Bhardwaj, switching back at a ‘darrling’ corner. Towards the end, a harmony with Francois Castellino takes it to yet another plane.
In the ‘acoustic’ ‘O Mama’, you hear only KK and a guitar. A lovely number to end the otherwise-frenetic album.
One for the season Whether it’s boiling in Chennai or breezy in Mumbai, it’s a crisp spring in Delhi at the moment. And we celebrate with Shubha Mudgal’s Rang Hori.
The album comes attractively clad in a not-quite-basant-coloured cloth, after the style that Mudgal’s Underscore Records has made its own. The songs are all from temple territory, especially from Krishna-conscious Brajbhumi.
From ‘Aaj vasant madan rangraliya’, set in — what else? — raag Basant, to ‘Nainan mein pichkari’, Sudhir Nayak’s harmonium sizzles. As can be expected in traditional tracks, some melodies are similar. But then, you do expect repetitions in the Holi season, don’t you? For example, puking on ‘Rang barse’ before the bhang gets to you. That revelry is some way off. For now, it’s Vasant.